Take 5: Ray Rhamey and a Kickstarter for the ZiZiT Word Game

WU zizit image 300WToday, we have a different sort of Take Five interview for you, as one of our contributors has just begun a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to bring to market a game for the literary minded. Please read on to learn more about Ray Rhamey’s new endeavor, and be sure to watch the fun video he and his wife made at the end of this post. Enjoy!

Q: Tell us a little about this new game you’ve created. What’s it about, and why might it appeal to writers in particular?

RR: I call ZiZiT “ze maximum word game” because I think of it as Scrabble on steroids. It utilizes unique two-way two-letter game pieces to create a word game with lots of twists and turns. I don’t know about you, but as a writer word games have always been fun for me.

There’s a social aspect to this venture, too. As any writer who has been edited or critiqued, I know that I don’t know it all nor do I do everything perfectly. So I’ve set up a games website on a blog platform where people can contribute ideas for game play or rules, share their experiences with the games, or even create new games.

And we invite people to add to our list of “zizicizmz,” which are totally bogus words you can play in ZiZiT. An example is ZIZMANIA, a maniacal craving to play ZiZiT chiefly found among the best and brightest people. You, especially, are invited—the zizicizmz page is here.

Q: What inspired this idea in the first place?

Kickstarter Pros & Cons


  • You’re in total control.
  • You can spend what you want to create your presentation–and that cost is all you have to spend up front.
  • While you really should make a video, no one expects it to be a professional execution; amateur is perfectly acceptable (and may have advantages in creating credibility).
  • You can do it yourself or with partners.
  • No applying for loans, offering equity in exchange for funds, etc. You don’t have to pay anybody back.
  • If you succeed, the money is all yours to do what you want with it (minus service fees to Kickstarter & Amazon).
  • There aren’t any legal requirements, just ethical and moral ones to fulfill your promises.
  • You control when and for how long it appears.
  • If it doesn’t succeed, it just goes away. Backers aren’t charged, and it hasn’t cost you anything beyond the cost of your presentation.
  • It’s free market research—the level of response to your project reflects, it seems to me, its marketability to the right audience.


  • Some people would consider exposing a new idea a negative because it could be copied. But the alternative is to do nothing. And you’re protected by the copyright law as soon as your Kickstarter project goes live.
  • It can be hard to build a big-enough crowd.
  • You might not like the idea of making a video, but with today’s movie software for Windows and Macs, it’s pretty darned doable.
  • Your project does have to be approved by the Kickstarter people, but their guidelines are clear and range of acceptance is pretty wide.
  • It’s totally on you. If you don’t make it, there’s no one to blame. Dang.

RR: Weirdly, it was the apparent failure of an idea for a deck of cards that combines two decks into one with two values on each card. When doing a patent search, it looked like there was a patent that would block my idea (it has turned out that it won’t). So I started thinking of other ways to use the dual-value notion, substituted letters for numbers and face cards, and voila! The new game had even more appeal to me than the card deck.

As a novelist, I’m a “pantser,” and there were aspects of that in creating this game. I invented several “game-changer” pieces—one that lets you play a proper noun, for example. Like some story lines that don’t pan out, there were a couple that simply didn’t work in play-testing, so the game evolved, just like one of my stories.

Q: What made you decide Kickstarter was the way to go for raising funds for this game?

RR: Kickstarter is called “crowd funding” because, well, a crowd of people chip in small amounts to raise the funds needed. It’s different than ordinary financing in that supporters—called “backers” at Kickstarter—don’t invest money in return for interest or stock. They receive what are called “rewards”—in my case, primarily copies of the game, though there are other fun rewards in our project, too.

The results can be significant. One Kickstarter card game project (Critters) designed by a couple had a goal of $2,500 and they raised more than $56,000—I found that to be more than encouraging. Kickstarter is limited to creative projects—art, music, dance, theater, publishing, film, games, research, and more—so it attracts the kind of people who might be interested  in my stuff. There are indie publishing projects by writers for their fiction, poetry, comics, and non-fiction.

Q: When will you know if the Kickstarter worked? And if it does, when will the game be available?

RR: Kickstarter requires that you set the time period for the funding effort. Our project ends on Sunday, July 14th, so we have 28 days to go as of this post. If backers pledge the amount of our goal by then, we receive the funds. If not, then we’ll have gained experience.

If funding succeeds, we will take the first 30 days to refine the games with backer input, and then I figure it will take about 30 to 60 days to produce and ship the games. There’s a lot to do—game pieces to get made, a box to design and have manufactured, a velour drawstring bag to produce to include in the ZiZiT game.

Q: How can people help and/or learn more?

RR: Visit the Kickstarter page and do whatever works for you. And passing it on to as many people as possible. That’s the key—accumulating the “crowd.”

Our games are for anyone who plays Scrabble, dominoes, and card games or is a parent-uncle-aunt-grandparent-relative-friend-teacher of people 7+ and 10+ who do. That’s you, right? Just in case it is, here’s a link to the page. There are links for free “print & play” downloads of sample-size games to give you a taste and to the website if you want to drill down a bit.

Many thanks in advance for your support.

Readers, you can learn more about Ray’s new game, ZiZiT, by following this link — and by watching the video below.

Good luck, Ray!



Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.


  1. says

    What a cool concept, Ray, and the presentation is very professionally done. I like how you’ve given classic games a new twist, so it’ll be easy to learn how to play.

    Best of luck!

  2. says

    I learned something new! I’ve never heard of Kickstarter before this–guess I need to get out of my writer’s cave more often.

    Good luck, Ray! Your game sounds like fun.
    ddfalvo´s last blog post ..Cliché? Touché.